ROCKFAX North Wales Classics

added Jul/2010, see all Rockfax news & reviews
Reviewed by Martin Chester
This review has been read 6,440 times
+North Wales Classics - example page 3, 194 kbNorth Wales Classics - example page 3
© Rockfax, Mar 2010

+North Wales Classics Rockfax Cover, 158 kbNorth Wales Classics Rockfax Cover
© Rockfax, Mar 2010
Martin Chester reviews the new Rockfax 'Pokketz' guide to selected routes in the mountains of North Wales.

For more reviews of this book see this Rockfax Webpage.


These 208 action packed pages are a veritable pocketful of fun and (for most) will satisfy a lifetime of climbing.

As you would expect from the RockFax team, the pages are clearly laid out, beautifully presented, and the whole book is crammed with great photos. By the time you get to page five, you have already seen images of classic valley cragging, long mountain routes, and the 'modern winter classic' - The Devil's Appendix. The topos are clear and easy to follow, and are so beautifully presented that even the odd 'route-finding faux pas' can be overlooked. But this goes way beyond your average RockFax:

The first thing to mention is the fact that this guide is genuinely pocket sized! When you see the mighty crag of Lliwedd (all 300m of it) squeezed into one A6 page you have to be impressed. Of course, if this is your first acquaintance with such an imposing crag, you may have to pack your reading glasses as well! Clearly a book like this needs to be taken with a healthy pinch of respect for a crag of this scale. There can be no substitute for route finding 'as you go', but the detail is amazing, and all the info you need is right there.

At first thought, the concept of a pocket sized guide full of gems is simply genius. Small enough to go in your chalk bag, let alone your trouser pocket, so there need be no fumbling around down your T-shirt for this volume in a moment of extremis (which is just as well – cos it's small enough to disappear off down your trousers!). Having so many great routes, in such a small volume, means you need never haul a great tome full of esoteric 'ne'er to be repeated obscurities up the routes of your choice. This is obviously quite appealing!

Furthermore, whilst the routes in here are undoubtedly classic in their own (from the very big to the very small and obscure; from Moderate to E9) way, there are plenty of unlikely gems to whet your whistle and tempt you off the more commonly chalked up track. Take Craig Aderyn for example – what a little gem! Then there's a beautifully photographed section on Cwm Silyn, and plenty of worthy (but often overlooked) routes in the Carneddau to tempt you to somewhere new.

But when I got to the bit on Welsh winter climbs, the wheels sort of fell off the plan, so to speak. Whereas before I was glad to be free of the unnecessary weight and revelling in my stripped down, go faster guidebook for the day – now I find I'm carrying a load of winter routes around in my chalk bag. Now I don't know about you (and concede that it was an amazing winter of simultaneous ice and sun) but I can't remember ever leaving the door to the house, uncertain as to whether I was going winter climbing or cragging that day!?

+North Wales Classics - example page 1, 154 kbNorth Wales Classics - example page 1
© Rockfax, Mar 2010

And then, whilst I was scratching my head, I found the Indian Face. Ironic some might say, that the original line of Christmas Curry is incorrectly drawn, when this 'route of a handful of ascents' is drawn up in exquisite detail. And then I suddenly got it – like a punchline that hits the spot as you shuffle home from the pub – too late to repair the embarrassment of failing to 'get it' first time round. The whole point of this book is that it's fun. Little book, big FUN!

Like any great selected Guide (go on – think of one) it has an 'era' and needs to find a home in climbing literature. If you were asked to write a view of the 'uber classic' 'Hard Rock' today, you couldn't help but wonder why some of the routes are in there. It stands as a statement of the era, a record of where people went, and what they considered worthy back in the day. And even such a distilled down gem as North Wales Classics has its day, for this book is undoubtedly very, very 2009-2010.

So the Indian Face deserves every square millimetre of page layout – just as the scoop on Strone Ulladale deserves its place in Hard rock. For some it will be a source of bewilderment; for others, a chance to wander past the base of this great megalith of UK trad climbing and pay homage – “So that's where it goes – Jesus!”; and for the author it is a tongue in cheek (and swift two fingers) repost to the puerile ticker. And here's a confession:

When I first saw this book I thought – awesome – what a neat little guide, I wonder how many of the routes I've done? Flicking though revealed a few little gems, and my mind turned to 'I wonder how long it will take to 'tick' all these? Then I, like so many readers yet to come, got to the Indian Face and thought – “Arse – better get some more climbing in then”!

So congratulations go to Mr Geldard – whose real potential must surely come to fruition when he has published three such pokketz guides to North Wales – Single pitch crags, an expanded version of this gem, and a pokketz winter climbs must all be in the pipeline? I wait with bated breath, and in the meantime, all those who have climbed the Indian Face form an orderly queue to be the first 'peurile ticker in town' – but for those few here is the real crux – you've got to go and lead a couple of routes on little buttress on the Cyrau first!

+The Indian Face page in North Wales Classics, 187 kbThe Indian Face page in North Wales Classics
© Rockfax, Apr 2010

What Rockfax say:

"A significant addition to the Rockfax stable; North Wales Classics is a pocket-sized guide packs in hundreds of superb routes throughout the mountains of Snowdonia.

From Tremadog to Tryfan, and everywhere in between, the book covers mid-grade routes on the best crags and features top-notch photo-topos and inspirational action shots taking you where you want to go.

Welsh Winter
Also includes Welsh Winter; a full chapter covering the best winter routes in Wales. Llanberis Pass, Trinity Face, Cwm Idwal and the Black Ladders with full photo-topos and glorious color.

The handy pocket format means you can carry the book easily up the routes, yet the full page photo-diagrams beautifully showcase the cliffs in perfect detail.

The guide does full-colour justice to several cliffs never before documented with topos, such as Little Tryfan and the Upper Tier of Tremadog.

North Wales Classics is the indispensable companion to your Welsh mountain adventures.

Format - The book is similar in size and layout to the Peak NE and Peak SE books only twice the thickness. It fits nicely into a pocket so that you can easily carry it up the routes."

Crags Included:

Tremadog, Cwm Silyn, Clogwyn Du'r Arddu,
Llanberis - Craig Ddu, Clogwyn y Grochan, Carreg Wasted, Dinas Cromlech, Dinas Mot, Clogwyn y Ddysgl, Cyrn Las
Lliwedd - Lliwedd, Clogwyn y Wenaullt
Ogwen - Tryfan, Glyder Fach, Idwal Slabs, Braich Ty Du, Carnedd y Filiast
Carneddau - Craig Lloer, Carreg Mianog, Craig yr Ysfa, Craig yr Ogof
Outlying - Clogwyn Cyrau, Carreg Alltrem, Clogwyn yr Oen
Winter - Craig y Rhaeadr, Trinity Face, Cwm Idwal, Black Ladders

North Wales Classics (Apr 2010)

North Wales Classics A pocket-sized 'POKKETZ' guide to the best routes in the North Wales Mountains. It also includes Welsh Winter - a guide to the best winter routes in North Wales.
More info

+Martin Chester, 69 kbMartin Chester
© Martin Chester
Martin Chester is the Director of Training at Plas y Brenin, and the Publicity Officer of the British Mountain Guides. He thinks the best picture in the whole guide is on page one!

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